Early Non-Destructive Testing methods

Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) may be the earliest form of material testing. In fact, as early as Roman times, oil and flour were used to detect fine cracks in marble slabs. Over a thousand years later, a similar practice, called the "Oil and Whiting Method," was employed to identify defects in train wheels. Both of these methods are considered forerunners of today's Liquid Penetrant Inspection (LPI).

Temple of Jupiter Stator
The Temple of Jupiter Stator in Rome was the first
all-marble building constructed in Rome (146 BCE).

Down through the ages, blacksmiths were known to use a type of sonic NDT simply by listening to the ring of the tone made by various metals as they were hammered into shape. Advances in this approach have given way to modern Ultrasonic Testing which is able to determine subsurface defects in metallic materials at a frequency beyond the limits of human hearing.

MPI - MagnafluxHowever, the first recorded use of NDT came in 1868, when Englishman S.H. Saxby chronicled in the journal, "Engineering," a method of detecting longitudinal cracks in gun barrels using the magnetized needle of a compass. A little over a half century later, Alfred Victor de Forest and Foster Baird Doane formed a company called Magnaflux which specialized in industrial applications of Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI). Today, this company's name remains synonymous with the process it helped pioneer.

The first industrial application of NDT

Wilhelm Conrad RontgenMPI was not the first industrial application of NDT, however. Credit for that goes to the X-Ray technique, first developed in 1895 by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (pictured left). Röntgen's experiments with cathode rays led to the discovery of the X-Ray for various applications, including possible flaw detection. His work was so revolutionary, he was awarded the first-ever Nobel Prize. Medicine was the first field to adopt this breakthrough technology and it wasn't until decades later that the industrial applications, envisioned by its inventor, were realized. In 1930, recognizing this untapped potential, German businessman Richard Seifert began developing higher energy X-Ray equipment and expanded the scope of its use beyond medicine to welding and other industrial applications.

From these early methods, Non-Destructive Testing has evolved into a robust material testing toolset for the detection of cracks, corrosion, leaks, heat damage, corrosion, casting and forging defects, and more.

Specific NDT testing methods and protocols include:

  • Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI)
  • Liquid Penetrant Inspection (LPI) aka Dye Penetrant Inspection (DPI)
  • Ultrasonic Testing
  • Real Time X-Ray
  • Field Examination
  • Material Properties

NDT can be performed at any stage of a product's life cycle - from raw materials through to secondary processing, such as machining and welding, to in-service systems and structural components. NDT is especially useful when the failure of a system or component might result in a catastrophic, life-threatening event or significant expense. Industries that utilize NDT include: Transportation, Energy/Power Plants, Pipelines, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Electronics/Semiconductors, and more.

Why choose ATRONA Test Labs for your Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)?

ATRONA is an ISO/IEC accredited, independent testing laboratory that offers you an array of Non-Destructive Testing capabilities. ATRONA features two Magnaflux (MPI) machines capable of testing samples up to 15' long. Our technicians are trained to perform wet magnetic particle inspection and have years of experience with this test method. We are accredited for this testing by ISO/IEC 17025 and follow the guidlines of ASTM E 1444. For Ultrasonic Testing, we utilize specialized equipment and testing methods; so we can inspect components and raw materials of various shapes and sizes. For smaller electronic components, such as switch and sensor examination and testing, ATRONA offers X-Ray capable of real time detection of open circuits, insufficient solder, voids, wire breakage, and other defects. This offers many advantages over traditional X-Ray to screen for defects. With Real Time X-Ray, ATRONA offers the microelectronic, semiconductor and PCBA industries the capability for internal inspection of the smallest devices and packages at relatively high magnification and resolution. We can even send you a video displaying 360-degrees of the component for you to view at your PC and take photos of the regions of interest. In addition to NDT testing capabilties, such as MPI and LPI, our multi-lab facility also features Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), Hardness Testing, Microstructure Analysis and more to determine Material Properties. ATRONA is also accredited to perform Liquid Penetrant Inspection (LPI) on production components to determine surface indications on non-magnetic steels and non-ferrous alloys. Dye Penetrant testing is conducted in accordance with ASTM E165. Finally, if you have a concern with a part or a system or a failure that is too large to send to our lab, ATRONA can perform an NDT examination on-site. Depending on the issues involved, our expert technicians will travel to your facility prepared with NDT equipment including: photography, measuring instruments, polishing instruments, etching chemicals, hardness testers, portable microscope, ultrasonic tester, liquid dye, portable Magnaflux, and other equipment and methods for the required test. Learn more about NDT Testing at ATRONA →

Atrona - We Deliver Insight